Final seasons have a tendency of being bad. For every good final season, there is one that ends up with no closure because the show got cancelled (too many shows to count end up in this category). Of course just as bad is when you get a final season of a show that has run so far past its creative capacity that there is nothing left to put in the final season (ala Entourage or the current season of The Office). While 30 Rock had nothing to worry about with the former (NBC has been dedicated to Tina Fey’s comedy even if the ratings have been terrible), the show really did have to worry about falling into the latter category. After its second season, 30 Rock has had numerous ups and downs creatively, and it was tough to even think about what we would get out of its final season. Luckily, Tina Fey and company stepped up their game as we got one of the best final seasons in recent memory as the show deftly combined funny and sweetness.
The final season of 30 Rock continues the crazy lives of everyone involved with TGS with Tracy Jordan. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) is desperately trying to start a family with Chris (James Marsden), while Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin) is trying to figure out what he is missing in his life now that he seemingly has everything. Meanwhile, at the studio, Jenna (Jane Krakowski) and Tracy (Tracy Morgan) have found themselves with more control as everyone has their attentions elsewhere. That of course means trouble is only a few seconds away. Tina Fey and Robert Carlock continued their duties as co-showrunners while Beth McCarthy-Miller led the directing team for the show.
Throughout its run, Tina Fey and Robert Carlock’s writing had a tendency to get a little too crazy for its own good. All of a sudden the characters would become joke-dropping caricatures without any personality to them. Luckily, Fey and Carlock honed this tendency in and it seemed like they gave each character an actual arc to work with. However, there were still more than enough jokes included to make you laugh. There were still those crazy guest appearances (highlights included Chloe Grace Moretz as Jack Donaghy’s reoccurring nemesis, Octavia Spencer playing herself as a female version of Tracy Jordan, Bryan Cranston as Kenneth’s father-in-law and Will Arnett returning as Jack Donaghy’s other nemesis), all of those funny pop culture references and those episodes that work as parodies of real-life events (“Stride of Pride”, which made fun of Adam Carolla’s real life declaration that women aren’t funny, was a season highlight). The writers also found a way to give everyone’s arc a sweet ending in the middle of all of the hilarity.
The cast gave some of their best performances this past season. Tina Fey was at the top of her game. It helped that she and her writing team gave her some of the best material of the entire show’s run, but Fey also stepped up her game as an actor (one scene with Tracy Morgan in the series finale will be a series highlight of her acting ability). Alec Baldwin was his typical great self. Baldwin may not have gotten the amount of material he normally does but Jack Donaghy has already earned a spot in the television character Hall of Fame. Even supporting actors like Jane Krakowski, Jack McBrayer and (especially) Tracy Morgan delivered some of their best performances of the series as the annoying tendencies of their characters were toned down.
30 Rock delivered a final season that cemented its status as one of the best comedies of its generation.